MANCHESTER, N.H. (CBS) — There’s a digital billboard with missing seven-year-old Harmony Montgomery’s picture up along I-93 in Methuen, heading to New Hampshire where she last lived with her father.
On Thursday, the reward for information leading to her increased to $112,000.READ MORE: Ice Safety: What You Should Be Looking Out For
Lawmakers and advocates are now taking a close look at what could have been done to prevent her from slipping under the radar when she was five years old in 2019. She has not been seen since then.
“I, more than anybody, want to see reforms where reforms are needed. But you can’t help somebody you can’t find,” said N.H. Rep. Mark Pearson, who chairs the joint committee in charge of oversight for the Department of Health and Human Services, an agency over the Department of Children Youth and Families. “We’re going to ask the question you asked. Could we have done something different?”
Gov. Chris Sununu says the state is investigating DCYF, but he stands by the agency.
“As soon as we found out that this child may not have been showing up for school for quite some time, it was reported up to us. The team got right on it. There wasn’t a delay. It didn’t sit in a file on somebody’s desk,” he said.
But at a vigil last weekend, the child’s birth mother Crystal Sorey, who did not have custody of her, said relatives had contacted authorities with concerns through the years and didn’t get a response.READ MORE: Man Can't Get Heart Transplant Because He's Not Vaccinated Against COVID
“There’s been time and effort given to try to turn the ship around, and for whatever reason, the leadership doesn’t seem capable of doing it,” said Anna Carrigan, a former New Hampshire state social worker turned whistle blower. “We cannot make children be kind of the tally marks of our failures by not righting the ship.”
Carrigan started a children’s advocacy group called “The New Road Project.” She says funding is the biggest problem.
Rep. Pearson says a bigger problem is finding available workers. He says the pandemic has taken a toll on staffing.
“We have positions already funded,” said Pearson. “The hard thing right now is not raising more money, it’s finding people.”
Carrigan added that better pay might help solve that problem.MORE NEWS: I-Team: Surveillance Photo Shows Suspect In Deadly Shooting At South Shore Plaza
“We underfund and underpay them, and then wonder why we don’t have the safety of children guaranteed, and that we’re talking today about a little girl who’s been missing for two years.”